Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Poem is Not a Political Protest, or is it?

by Editor in Chief Mary Bast
If you are a person who truly cares about the environment or politics or equality in matters of race or gender . . . these concerns will naturally emerge in your poems. Your only job is to follow your instinctive, personal, idiosyncratic sense . . . and to see what emerges . . . "What Poetry Can Teach Us About Power: Political Poems Use Language in a Way Distinct From Rhetoric." Matthew Zapruder, Literary Hub,  August 16, 2017
The article above points out the danger when poets try to consciously bend their work to a political message. The author quotes Keats: "We hate poetry that has a palpable design on us." Instead, the most powerful poems carry a political message by re-enlivening and reactivating language in a way that invites attention and raises awareness.

Such is the power of Adrian S. Potter's "This is Not a Protest Poem," Bacopa Literary Review 2017's Poetry Honorable Mention. Poetry Editor J.N. Fishhawk and I loved this poem from the title alone, knowing Potter would reactivate the meaning of "this is NOT."  Instead readers are simply invited to watch . . .
a grown man shooting baskets
at a deserted playground
under partly sunny skies.
"This poem is not a metaphor," the poet assures us, "not code / for some political agenda," It's "not an allegory / about activists and antagonists." Yet readers will not be able to forget this "quiet guy practicing / shoulder fakes, pivots, and drop steps . . ."

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